Figures of speech: I feel weird asking this... - Autism Support

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Figures of speech


I feel weird asking this, but I have to know. People frequently use "figures of speech" for example; I heard through the grape vine, right from the horses mouth or it's raining cats and dogs. Does anyone wonder why they use those analogies and not something that makes more sense? Why a grape vine, what's so special about a grape vine or why cats and dogs? I understand the premise behind the analogy because growing up I heard them frequently, but they sound ridiculous.

4 Replies

You know what? I've been curious about those too. I usually google them and get some good stories about how they came to be. Like, if I remember, Raining Cats and Dogs has something to do with cats and dogs having been on the roof of a thatched house and when it rains really hard they would come through? Please don't quote that! But since you're bound to have more questions about other figures of speech, I recommend Urban Dictionary. Google is my friend. ;)

Language evolves because its users find it useful. Two useful qualities of idioms are brevity and clarity. Try expressing “from the horse’s mouth”, without ambiguity, in fewer syllables.

They only sound ridiculous because you are interpreting them as analogies. They are not analogies. They are idioms.

Try thinking of them like the name of a band: The Police, One Direction, Elbow, or a chocolate bar: Mars, Bounty, Milky Way. If read as analogies, they are ridiculous. As an easy and unambiguous label they work well. It’s just the same with: “Don’t look a gift horse”, or “Back to square one”.